“Slavery, sir, it’s done,” were the words President Lincoln, in the recently released movie Lincoln, says to the envoy from the Confederate States. So can it be said for the Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA, as it is called. Marriage inequality, my follow Americans, it’s done.
The Supreme Court is to decide this term whether DOMA is Constitutional or not. Hopefully, the Supremes will see what is readily apparent to civil rights advocates. DOMA, Congress’ shameful and degrading slap on the gay and lesbian community, is unconstitutional and should be rended null and unenforceable. Here’s what it’s about.
DOMA was federally enacted in 1996 and signed into law by Bill Clinton, one of our more liberal Presidents. It has only three invidious sections. Section 1 defines marriage for Federal purposes as exclusively between a man and a woman. Coupled with Section 3 which permits the Federal government to disregard same-sex marriages for Federal purposes, same-sex couples are denied over 1,100 federal rights that benefit heterosexual couples, including:
- joint parenting rights;
- joint adoption rights;
- status as next-of-kin for hospital visits and medical decisions;
- wrongful death benefits for a surviving spouse;
- tax-free transfer of property between spouses;
- spousal rights to Social Security benefits;
- exemption from “due on sale” clauses in home mortgages when one spouse dies; and
- rights to funeral and bereavement leave,
just to name a few. One of the less obvious, but more odious effects of the law is as follows: If a married couple is, for example, comprised of two men, one of the men will never be permitted to be the father of their child, because the child will already have a father.
The second provision of DOMA authorizes each state to ignore same-sex marriages performed legally in another jurisdiction. Here’s were the Congressional slap becomes apparent. Article IV, Section 1 of our Federal Constitution – a provision which helped create a federal union from our many States – requires that each State recognize and respect the laws and acts of every other State. That’s why, Virginia, for example, is required to recognize a Connecticut driver’s license or a heterosexual marriage legally performed in Connecticut. Because of DOMA, however, Virginia is not required to recognize a same-sex marriage legally performed in Connecticut, and, as of today, it does not.
If marriage needs defending, then all marriages need defending. When one marriage is under attack, then all marriages are under attack. What the feds took from the gay and lesbian community, they can take from the heterosexual community. Indeed, today marriage needs defending. It needs defending from Congress, and the Supreme Court is poised to do just that.
President Bill Clinton signing DOMA into law. Image curtesy of: http://kirkcameron.com/2012/10/defense-of-marriage-act-is-declared-unconstitutional/